Massive tax breaks and giveaways. That's all this is about. It's a dog and pony show to see who will fork up the most to buy in to the delusion that it will pay off somehow.
Because it doesn't work for sports stadiums. It works in the sense of corporate welfare, but it is not a net gain for the community.
It's sad watching cities fall over themselves to give Amazon (a half a trillion dollar company) a handout. Handouts no one can afford.
> (but where cities take the hit if the company town fails)
As a country , states , and many municipalities , we're very much insolvent as it relates to future obligations. Could we please stop supporting reckless behavior making it worse?
If Musk can die on Mars, Bezos can damn well own a county.
> “Not everybody wants to live in the Northwest,” Wilke said. “It’s been terrific for me and my family, but I think we may find another location allows us to recruit a different collection of employees.”
I don't think most tech talent, MBAs, or finance workers want to live in Newville.
And what is particularly galling about Amazon is they essentially pay no taxes. Since 2008, Amazon has paid $1.8B in income tax while Walmart has paid $64B . So they're basically leeches demanding public services while contributing virtually nothing. As someone whose name I've forgotten said, the fundamental question surrounding silicon valley / SV type companies is how do you run a country when a company with $0.5T market cap / Fortune #12 essentially pays no taxes. Who pays for roads/fire services/schools.
It's absurd to think that there is no tax money being injected into the city simply because the corporate tax collected is low. They are spending their profits! Some of it in Seattle, and in other places they have physical presence on wages, real estate, etc.
Honestly you need to explain your premise that they contribute nothing... it's illogical. Where is the money going?
Why are "taxes" the only way citizens of a community can prosper? Do wages not count? If they do count, would you like to argue that Amazon is not paying wages to thousands of employees?
Do those employees pay taxes? Taxes aside, are the wages themselves beneficial?
One final point: "tax breaks" in and of themselves seem silly to rail against, like a shareholder being upset at "discounts".
Is your contention that a city giving any tax breaks will see less tax revenue as a result of Amazon coming into their city than if they didn't? Surely it's a question of how much no?
Above some threshold, which can still be very low, they are going to get massive amounts of tax revenue, aside from the fact that wages, jobs, and citizens paying taxes will increase.
You might dispute this, but I don't see any numbers or qualifiers with anyone saying "tax breaks", in and of themselves are always on balance, whatever the specific details, worse than not having the companies be there.
There are lots of debates on the correct form of taxes anyways. Corporate taxes of non-trivial rates seem pointless to me, or.. detrimental actually. Property tax abatements? No different from a landlord giving rent deferrals to a whale tenant. It can be a very practical choice
Politicians' incentives not being aligned with long term goals of a city? Yes.. that is a problem. But still. The right choice could very well be massive tax breaks, even among those of differing political philosophies.
I sort of agree only on corporate tax breaks - pragmatically there is little point keeping them so high that most international corporations keep their profits offshore. I'd favor lowering corporate overseas rates, but only in combination with increased enforcement against tax avoidance schemes. But to me thats an unrelated to local city/state tax breaks given to corporations.
Since Amazon uniquely doesn't earn much profit, preferring to invest / spend as much of their revenue as possible, one could argue that there is an opportunity cost to collecting more money from Amazon in taxes vs leaving it to them to spend how they see fit. The cost is whatever alternative use they would place on that money... more employees hired, higher wages / benefits, more R&D, more capital expenditure, more construction, who knows.
Or course, in every one of those cases, there would likely be taxes involved anyways...
Good jobs are the lifeblood of any community, and Amazon has provided them in spades in Seattle in a way that is far from extractive. They buy land and build on it and have transformed South Lake Union from a dead, dangerous warehouse district into a thriving neighborhood in ten years time. 
Almost all of the "problems" that Seattle faces due to Amazon's presence are problems that hundreds of towns would gladly take in exchange for the tens of thousands of high-end jobs that would bolster their community. 
 See map after article for current HQ2 bids. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/georgia-town-of...
For many, giving up some taxes from a company that isn’t currently there is a no brainer.
Wages by themselves are not beneficial because cities and countries require money to build/maintain public works.
The history of cities giving tax breaks to attract business and that resulting in a net positive outcome for the city is very very slim. See eg any economist (except those paid for by sports teams) that's covered this.
Seattle costs are ginormous.
Calgary (Alberta, Canada, not Texas) added triple that in 2014. Since the province's economy is commodity driven the major city centers are accustomed to boom and bust cycles and are used to adding housing quickly. Also of note, Calgary has rated quite high based on a number of other metrics given by Amazon (though, to be fair its really hard to trust all bias is left behind in these analyses)
A crack down on H1B abuse will free up tens of thousands of spots for companies like Amazon to bring in real talent.
You have companies like Tata getting 5x as many H1B visas as Amazon. And yet they pay their H1B staff on average ~$50k/year less than Amazon.
Yes, and unicorns would be nice, but let's stick to things that are actually likely to happen.
If they put it in Calgary I'd consider moving. That salary hit is massive though.
I live in Atlanta and all of these things are true except that last one. MARTA has neither the coverage or the competence to qualify as 'decent'. Even if they plopped the HQ right on top of Five Points (as is being proposed), most employees are still gonna drive, and encounter that world-class ATL rush hour traffic.
That said, Atlanta is still definitely in play, and our department of economic development (which I used to work for) is one of the most effective in the country. They brought Hollywood to Atlanta already, Amazon shouldn't be that much harder. Culturally, I expect it would encounter a mixed reception.
Compared to New York, Chicago, DC, Boston, or SF sure. Assuming Amazon isn't going to expand to a more expensive city, the only competing subway system is in Philadelphia. MARTA is unpopular, but cleaning it up and buying new trains is cheap compared to digging new tunnels through an existing city. No one points out that the Gulch site is currently a wasteland because we all know that if Amazon shows up, it won't be.
500k people ride MARTA every week day. As long as Amazon builds their HQ close to a station plenty of the workers will have the option to live close to one, or drive to a park and ride as opposed to dealing with the traffic.
Much more likely is transit oriented development, where the 5 to 6 blocks on either side of each station is built up to let people live a short walk from transit.
Also, no way Atlanta is getting Amazon to build out there. The car culture is stronger than Austin, and the cops in ATL make Texas and Seattle cops (which are under federal consent decree for brutality and racial bias) look downright nice.
Never, ever ever let a cop catch you with any substance of any kind down there either, or you'll catch a felony quicker than you can blink. I can fill both hands counting former Atlanta residents who moved to Seattle after getting felonies for minor amounts of marijuana, those prosecutors down there are crazy.
Now that my walk to marta is 20 minutes and on east-west line I am using it less, but would if I worked downtown. <shrug>
see you on reddit/r/Atlanta :)
As for importing workers, I think you'd be surprised how many tech companies are in the city already, I've seen a lot of people who suggest that Detroit is a top 10 city in the US in terms of work, one example is here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2017/03/16/technolog...
You also have to see it from Amazon’s stated goal. They said they want a viable second Headquarters. They want some place that could function if the other place went down. Detroit fits that.
There is little to no way Amazon is going to be able to import their workforce to live in the city of Detroit. A whole lot of the housing options there are extremely outdated or require extreme renovation, the city’s infrastructure is in crumbles, and blight is still a problem.
Source: I have some friends that live in Detroit. Like, the actual city, not the Detroit Metro area.
The only thing that would hold us back is infrastructure. We have virtually no public transportation, and the influx of all the Amazonians would take traffic to hellish levels. But to me, I see that as a positive. We need a wakeup call to finally overhaul our public transport.
Source: I live in Detroit.
Room to grow housing and office space requires a whole lot of development to happen. My greater point is that there is very little incentive for most people to move to Detroit compared to other locales that are further along on actually having a lot of the type of housing that is popular on the west coast, some semblance of working public transport and infrastructure, etc. The M-1 Rail is a good start, but I think we are still years from Detroit being a truly viable choice.
There are better options than Detroit for this largely just because Detroit is very far behind other cities that can offer some of these needs now and grow into the future ones. Detroit is still at the stage of needing to grow a bit more to support the influx.
The M-1 rail is a joke. It goes from New Center to downtown, which is like a 4 mile stretch. It's the People Mover 2.0, public transportation lip service. It doesn't connect the burbs to the city, which is what we need. Not a personal shuttle for Quicken Loans employees living in midtown.
Our problem is that the northern suburbs get to vote on public transportation and they always vote against it. People who live in the burbs closer to Detroit (Ferndale, Royal Oak, Oak Park, Hazel Park, Roseville, etc) want to be able to ride something into the city so they don't have to deal with traffic and parking.
I can't say I care very much one way or another wether Amazon comes here, I just disagree with the sentiment that Detroit is unworthy of it.
Seems ridiculous to me, when a train approaches an intersection, you should have bollards come up and the train should always take priority. Moving hundreds of people is a higher priority than moving a few dozen, but yet the train is the lowest priority in LA intersections, and grey crossings aren't properly defended against idiot drivers crashing into trains.
Further, to my understanding of Detroit's current situation, the city/local government could grant Amazon entire zip code blocks of commercial/industrial real estate for its purposes. Repurposing and renovating/rebuilding already existing structures will always be cheaper than going from the ground up.
As one senator once said. “I don’t need you when it’s easy if I don’t have you when it’s hard”.
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I think that's the first time I've seen visible evidence of the DNT setting actually doing something. Now whether or not that offsets the header/footer turds that litter their mobile site, I'm still deciding. :-)
When tribes and agriculture exist near each other, you will see economical interdependency, not one population pushing the other away.
It's not like amazon is going to airlift in 50k people on day 1.
Anyway, Northern Virginia is still the obvious place for second HQ, given metro access to DC, Dulles airport, the millions of datacenters, fios penetration and large numbers of local it workers.
BUT I think it's fair to point out that Amazon going anywhere where it represents a large change in the population will have a notable housing impact. Construction lags behind demand and the current markets in high tech areas have lots of problems with difficult local regulations, extreme rents, very limited availability, and general gentrification issues. Amazon will likely be a net positive for wherever they go, but it's a good idea to anticipate and try to reduce the inevitable negatives.
I want to disagree with your NoVa conclusion, but I can't. It has location, population, infrastructure, though transportation is notoriously bad - almost always ranked worse for traffic than San Francisco and Seattle, usually beating Boston, and challenging LA depending on what you measure. (that's from memory and a few google searches to make sure I'm not crazy, take with salt) North Carolina would be the next natural match, but I don't see Amazon taking on that political mess.
If Amazon moves to Podunksville, it will "work". Given that they're looking for deals, it will almost certainly be successful as far as "does the office function, is it a net positive to our productivity". But what is already at their new location will definitely impact what happens for the first few years as the local economy shifts. Pulling in 90% of their workforce from remote with a tiny hub airport that has only 2 non-stop destinations is very different from pulling 50% of their workforce from remote with an international airport with non-stop flights to most major cities. The reverse effects are true as well - getting people in where the local cost of living makes every dollar worth $1.20 grants a benefit vs a local cost of living giving you $0.90 spending power per dollar.
Heck - Moving to Seattle was wonderful for my wife and I in lots of tiny ways: People aren't confused when asked about vegetarian options, assuming it's not already clear on the menu. Our various hobbies and entertainments are well represented (Heck, I play tabletop RPGs and a good chunk of the major companies are actually _here_) It'd take a notable bit more to get me to go to somewhere where eating out is a chore, where I have to deal with the 5 local adults willing to play a "game" regularly and have to put up with their quirks because I have no other options, where I have to deal with religious evangelism on a daily basis, where you have to drive everywhere, where the weather is extreme, etc.
This isn't a question of success vs failure, it's a question of how to maximize their success. And the success of the local area, including the current residents.
1. Transportation: the vast majority of workers in NoVa drive to work, either to drive to Metro or drive to their workplace. Traffic is unacceptably bad now. Going from Bethesda to McLean, which is about a 15 mile drive, can take over an hour.
Solution: Amazon locates west of Manassas, in Front Royal or Leesburg.
This still puts them close to their us-east datacenters, but it’s still far from nightlife and city attractions for their workers. Maybe Richmond would be better, except there is a dearth of tech workers there.
When I was in Chicago the other weekend there was so much talk about Amazon moving their headquarters there, with a number of possible sites including the Old Main Post Office.
There is a building boom going on right now. Chicago has 54 high-rises in construction, many with residential living space. Some are smaller 50-unit buildings and the biggest, One Grant Park, has 792 units.
Notwithstanding what this article suggests (a little hard to follow), Miami housing numbers are as follows:
About 12,300 new condos are expected to be completed in downtown between between 2014 and 2019; between 2004 and 2009, more than 21,000 units were delivered.
And this is just downtown, “Miami” itself is a sprawling area with development continuing South and West where it’s suggested Amazon would set up shop. In fact some of the housing development has even been paused due to to much housing coming on the market and lack of demand (though the demand is actually there, local wages are not, reading between the lines foreign investment is drying up). Still the developers (deep pockets) want nothing more than to keep the good times rolling and bringing in Amazon would be instrumental.
rather have a place with a bit of space.
And I'm not going to knock Seattle, there is nothing wrong with cold, wet, dark and depressing...but there is something to be said about the year round Tropical weather Miami has to offer. Its why Miami has snowbirds and our number 1 industry is tourism (discounting Medicare/insurance fraud).
Cities already have models that assume/hope for a certain amount of job creation (and loss), with some of that being provided by new entrants to the area.
If existing businesses aren't meeting the model, they go out and find new sources. The jobs and housing numbers are separate (separate orgs, both flowing from the same model).
So, consider this more of a mayor being a salesman meeting their annual quota with a single sale. It's risky, but it's not an issue if it happens - they have already planned for success.
Now, if they aren't producing housing to meet their plan, that's an entirely different problem.
Growing city with very affordable housing, large university system (OSU), close to international airport, centrally located in the midwest.
My take is that the RFP is a long-list of wants, not the short-list of must-haves. They want lots of suitors knocking on their door, to make the bidding process competitive.
This seems to be a problem but not uncommon even beyond Amazon.
“Without tunnels we’ll be in traffic hell forever” -Elon Musk
How is this significantly better? We still have to distribute people from their houses to the tunnel, and from the tunnel to where they want to go.
Again, as near as I can tell, the best possible outcome of ultra high speed tunnel transport is you move the dense housing problem (or the traffic problem) elsewhere. That's not actually a solution. I also think it only appears easier than eg fixing sfbay's housing problems.
The only way an auto tunnel network would solve traffic is by charging a sufficiently-high toll to match supply with demand. Otherwise, in an area dense enough that traffic congestion is a problem, induced demand will lead to congestion:
Furthermore, there are plenty of companies and housing on the outskirts of cities where there are reasonable housing and commutes.
If everyone wants to live within 30 minutes of a Manhattan office, no, then there's probably no solution.
If you want to pay housing boom sized taxes on a house worth a fraction of that, there is plenty of that as well. Since you aren't allowed to reappraise a lot of property.